Carrabba's may have started here, but Florida's running game
Carrabba’s Italian Grill began with “two Sicilian boys from Texas” who opened up a humble Italian joint on Kirby Dr near the end of 1986. After opening a second location and gaining considerable success, the Carrabbas entered into a joint venture with Outback Steakhouse, Inc. in 1993. Two years later, OSI acquired the rights to the chain, and since then, the chains have been bloomin’ like an onion. While Carrabba's was a hometown hero for a while, Florida (the HQ of OSI’s parent company) has taken to the Chicken Bryan even more so than it has bath salts. Even though that Chicken Bryan was named after Bryan, Texas, Florida hosts five times the Carrabba’s as Texas, with a whopping 70 restaurants to our 14.
Speaking of Carrabba's, Carrabba's and Damian's and Ninfa's and El Tiempo are all connected
Those “two Sicilian boys from Texas” just so happened to be John Charles "Johnny" Carrabba III and his uncle, Damian Mandola. You may recognize the name Damian Mandola, because he also had part in opening Damian’s Cucina Italiana and Mandola’s Italian. His brother, Vincent A. “Bubba” Mandola, is responsible for the Vincent’s, Nino’s, Pronto Cucinino, and Grappino di Nino quartet, in part with his other brother, Anthony “Tony” Mandola Jr. This all sounds like a lotta Italian, so where does the Tex-Mex come in? Well, Tony Jr. married Phyllis Lorenzo Mandola, whose mother was none other than “Mama Ninfa” herself, the womAn responsible for spreading the popularity of the fajita and bringing us both Ninfa’s and -- via her son Roland -- El Tiempo Cantina. There’s even more restaurant incest that went down, which the Houston Press does a standout job of covering for those interested.